Activist parents are painted as terrorists
America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat from parents, according to the National School Boards Association and Atty. Gen. Merrick Garland.
In a story straight out of the “No matter how cynical I get, I just can’t keep up” file, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Biden on September 29, in which the organization contends that there is a serious threat to our “schools and its (sic) education leaders” due to a “growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the country.” The NSBA adds that “these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” And just for good measure, the group, which holds symposiums that examine the best way to “ingrain equity into our culture moving forward,” also asserts that “critical race theory is not taught in public schools.”
In the real world, the term “heinous actions” could refer to the George Floyd riots which caused more than $1 billion in property damage and took the lives of at least 30 people. Or when Antifa invaded Portland and other cities in the northwest over a period of months, destroying businesses and cars, and attacking several government buildings in the process.
But, no. The “heinous actions” the NSBA talks about refer to a few boisterous parents at local school board meetings who strenuously objected to the teaching of Critical Race Theory. In the NSBA footnotes, the listed offenses are for the most part labeled as “disruptions.” There are a few threats to school board members, but only one actual assault occurred when an Illinois man allegedly hit a school official as he was leaving a school board meeting. While clearly a few parents took things too far, NSBA’s comparing the incidents to domestic terrorism is asinine.
But wait, it gets even more outrageous. On October 4, five days after the NSBA letter, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a directive to the FBI, stating, “In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.” As a corrective, Garland is directing the FBI to “convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district within 30 days of the issuance of this memorandum. These meetings will facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff, and will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response.”
While Garland’s edict supplied no evidence to support his outlandish claims, it warmed the hearts of all the usual suspects, of course. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, who also denies that CRT is taught in schools, tweeted, “Thank you #DOJ …Merrick Garland tackles threats to educators amid critical race theory furor.”
On every level imaginable, the NSBA/Garland actions are absurd. First off, none of what happened at local school board meetings necessitates the need for federal intervention; if a parent does something illegal, it should be a matter for local authorities. Also, if they think that parents are going to be intimidated by their threats, they severely underestimate the anger that many moms and dads have for the education establishment at this time. Between CRT, mask mandates, forced vaccines, etc., the sleeping giant has awakened, and threats by power-hungry bureaucrats will only energize more parents to act on the threat posed by our government and its schools.
In fact, parent groups have been springing up all over the country to fight CRT and its enablers. On October 1, right after the National School Boards Association letter went public, a coalition of 23 parent groups representing 427,000 members sent a message to the NSBA stating, “Your letter to President Biden is a thinly veiled threat, intended to intimidate into silence and submission the very constituents that your members ostensibly represent.”
Parents Defending Education, an activist parent group, opened an online portal on their website right after Garland’s directive was posted, and invited parents to send a message to the Justice Department. Within the first four hours, 1,508 parents sent emails.
In related news, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 101 into law on October 8, requiring California high school students to take a one-semester ethnic studies class to graduate, starting in the 2029-2030 school year. While the state has issued a controversial model curriculum, it will be up to each individual school district to determine content. With 1,037 districts in the state, school board meetings over the next few years will be battlegrounds. I’m sure the FBI and NSBA will be monitoring events, doing whatever they can to criminalize dissent, and portray concerned parents as terrorists in order to coerce the easily intimidated into compliance.
To be sure, some parents will be cowed, but many won’t be intimidated one bit. The sleeping giant has awakened. Battle lines have been drawn. The war is on. Welcome to America in 2021.
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Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.